ATLANTA – Welcome to 2011 Major Redux in Georgia, Part II.
Thursday at the Tour Championship looked like a replay of last month’s PGA Championship across town, what with Glory’s Last Shot 1-2 protagonists Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner on top of the leaderboard here at East Lake Golf Club.
Well, another day, another major lookalike.
Round 2 here served up a 2011 Masters flavor. Tour Championship midway leader Adam Scott tied for second at Augusta. K.J. Choi, one shot back, tied for eighth there. The two men tied for third place here, two shots back, also contended down Interstate 20 in April – Jason Day tying for second, Luke Donald tying for fourth. And Geoff Ogilvy, also on the board here at T-10, ended up co-fourth in the year’s first major championship.
There’s probably more coincidence than rhyme or reason behind this development. The grasses at Augusta National and East Lake are different. The greens here aren’t as undulating. And players who excel in majors and make their way into the top 30 stand a good chance of having confidence and doing well in a season-ending short-field event.
“You get a bunch of good players together, and these things are going to unfold like this,” Scott said.
That said, if there are horses for courses, maybe there are mates for states.
Three of Zach Johnson’s seven PGA Tour victories have come in Georgia, and three happened in Texas. Scott has won three different tournaments in Texas. Though his game is dangerous anywhere, Californian Phil Mickelson has had most of his success in the western part of the country.
“Maybe Georgia (is a reason),” Scott said.
Charles Howell III, an Augusta native who lives in Orlando, doesn’t disagree.
“With the greens running like they are now (fast at East Lake), they are alike,” Howell said of the two courses. “They have a similar feel, a Southern type of feel. This place is closer to Augusta now because of the greens.”
Whatever the case, Saturday is unlikely to bring yet another different 2011 major theme. Northern Ireland residents Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, winners of the major Opens of summer, aren’t here. What’s more, eight of the top 10 from the U.S. Open and nine of the lead 11 from the British Open are also absent.
Saturday, too, is unlikely to bring as good of a quote as Friday did.
The context is this: In light of the fact New Zealand has been dominant and Australia lost to Ireland in the Rugby World Cup, Aussie Scott was asked if his gruff Kiwi caddie, Steve Williams, was rubbing it in or being diplomatic.
“Diplomatic,” Scott said, smiling, “is not in his vocabulary.”